Saratoga Horses in Focus for Friday, July 23


It’s hard to know how the public will sort out the four main contenders in this race, as they all look pretty evenly matched from a speed figure standpoint. The one that I’m somewhat against is Dame Time, who got a great trip in her turf debut last time and just couldn’t forge past a longshot winner in deep stretch. She figures to run well again, but I prefer some others. Three of these faced off in a June 3 race at this level. Tuscan Queen ran very well in that debut run despite getting dismissed at 16-1. It’s worth noting that the fractions of that Jun. 3 race are almost surely incorrect (Trakus had 21.99 – 45.82 – 1:09.30), and the race unfolded as if the pace were honest. She’s turned in some pretty swift workouts since that debut, and could be ready to take a step forward. The filly who dueled with her, Six Feet Apart, as also worked well out of that match-up, most recently holding her own in a Jul. 16 workout in company with Grade 1 winner Kimari. However, the horse I want most out of that race is Gailhorsewind. She beat both of those aforementioned fillies, albeit with a good trip, and may be able to win here with a similar effort. However, she didn’t get a chance to show what she could do in her one race since then. It looked like she was the horse to beat last time until it was announced that she was getting a last-minute rider switch. I don’t want to be too hard on the low-percentage fill-in rider, but needless to say switching back to Jose Lezcano is a positive move. 


Ajourneytofreedom is perhaps the horse to beat in this competitive optional claimer going 12 furlongs on the inner turf. He’s placed in multipole graded stakes events and has run well over a variety of distances, even finishing third in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup going 2 miles in his most recent appearance. The problem is that he just rarely wins. Despite running well in all of his starts for Mike Maker, he’s been stuck collecting minor awards. He should get an honest pace to close into this time, but I prefer others at slightly better prices. My top pick is He’s No Lemon, who has shined here before. He’s made two prior starts at Saratoga, each time around 3 turns on the inner turf course, and he’s won both of them. His form may look a little spotty in between those Saratoga starts, but he’s had some valid excuses on a few occasions. He didn’t handle a soft turf course at Kentucky Downs last fall, and then he was bottled up in traffic behind a slow pace for much of the Sycamore in his 2020 finale. His return from the layoff last month at Belmont was surely a prep, as 1 1/8 miles is just too short for him. Now he’s stretching out to an appropriate distance, and he’s dropping slightly in class. At a slightly better price, I would also use Kentucky Ghost on the stretch-out. He’s never gone quite this far before, but he’s bred to handle marathon distances, and it appears that he’s heading in the right direction. He put in a gutsy effort to win at Churchill two back, and did well to close belatedly against Set Piece last time going a distance that is a little short for him.


One of the challenges in deciphering this Lake George is determining which was the best prep for this race. I want to lean towards horses coming out of the Wonder Again, which was perhaps a slightly tougher race than the Wild Applause or Tepin that others exit. Jouster could go favored here as she cuts back to a more appropriate distance after setting the pace in the Wonder Again. She didn’t have to go that quickly up front, but her lack of stamina took its toll late. This time she should make the lead over horses like Navratilova and Demodog, and it’s usually good to have speed going a mile on the inner course. Yet the runner who I prefer out of the Wonder Again is Technical Analysis. She looked like a filly who could develop into a contender for the Belmont Oaks coming into that race, but she disappointed with a sixth-place finish. However, I think her trip just didn’t work for her. She was too keen heading into the first turn and Jose Ortiz could just never wrangle her off the pace. She’s a filly who needs to be covered up, and she was always unsettled racing wide in the clear. This time she figures to benefit from a quicker early tempo over the shorter distance. When she’s able to conserve her energy, she possesses a pretty electrifying turn of foot. It also appears that she’s continued to train well since that recent defeat. Among the others, I would also use the undefeated Runaway Rumour. She was perhaps second best in the Wild Applause as Minaun encountered some traffic when kept in by that foe in the stretch. However, Runaway Rumour drew a much better post position here, and she’s just continued to improve with each start. I wouldn’t overlook her at a square price.

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